Berkshire Force 16-U softball earns Coaches Classic tourney win in Greenfield
GREENFIELD -- It's safe to say the Berkshire Force 16-under softball team could get used to winning tournaments.
With the Babe Ruth Softball World Series coming to Pittsfield in a little more than two weeks, the Force earned their first tournament championship of the summer Sunday, beating the Capitaland (N.Y.) Crunch 7-3 in the final of the Coaches Classic at Murphy Park.
Emily Koldys hit a three-run home run to left center in the first inning of the championship, and Berkshire didn't look back after that. Julia Murphy earned a complete-game win, and Allie Hunt was later named the tournament's most valuable player.
"This is the level of World Series play we're going to see. This is what we're going to see every single game," Force coach Jim Clary said. "And they were up to the challenge from the first pitch to the last out."
Ashley Keegan -- who threw a no-hitter in a 7-0 semifinal victory over the Central Mass. (Leominster) Voodoo -- hit an RBI double in the first inning of the championship game to score Hayley Tobin. Tobin would hit a two-run double in the fourth inning, and score on Hunt's RBI double.
The Force went 2-1 in pool play, with the loss coming to the No. 1 seed Crunch. Earning the No. 2 seed, Berkshire won twice on Sunday -- including Keegan's no-hitter -- to get a rematch with Capitaland. Keegan allowed just one walk in the no-hitter, striking out four.
"Ashley has been working on some new pitches," Clary said. "All last week, she was working on pitches. We got a lot of help from Carly Decker, who came in and worked with our pitchers."
Decker, a Taconic pitcher this spring, played for the Force 16-Us last year.
Keegan hit a two-run single in Berkshire's six-run fifth in the semifinals. Mir Voller, Jill Campbell and Kailey Bell added an RBI single each.
In the quarterfinals, the Force beat the Conn. Valley Vipers (Shelton, Conn.) 4-1. Emily Koldys struck out four, giving up five hits and walking none, for the win on the mound. Hunt hit a two-run double and Keegan had an RBI single in Berkshire's three-run fourth inning.
The Force will next play this upcoming weekend in a 22-team college showcase tournament in Lowell. This tournament replaces the Babe Ruth New England regional tournament, which Berkshire won't play in due to Babe Ruth rules meant to maximize the number of teams in the World Series. Berkshire's World Series spot is guaranteed due to its role as host team.
Clary said the teams in Lowell this weekend will all be "in the caliber of the last team we played today. The Lowell tournament is going to be chock full of those teams. It's going to be a great test."
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